BRADENTON -- With transportation, food service and bell timing sorted out, three of six Manatee Count high schools will welcome students 15 minutes earlier this year.
Students attending Palmetto, Bayshore and Southeast high schools will report for the start of the school year at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 24, while students at Manatee, Lakewood Ranch and Braden River high schools will continue to show up at 7:45 a.m.
The additional 15 minutes will allow Palmetto, Bayshore and Southeast to try new schedules in an attempt to get students in front of their teachers more often during the week.
"This is a school-community decision," said Cynthia Saunders, deputy superintendent of instruction.
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For the 2014-15 school year, all high schools ran on a block schedule with one "skinny" 50-minute period in the morning followed by three block -- or about 90-minute periods -- the rest of the day.
Students enroll in seven classes. The block days rotate on an "A" or "B" schedule.
Palmetto High went to what officials have dubbed the "straight seven" schedule where each period is about 50 minutes long and each class meets at the same time every weekday.
Bayshore and Southeast integrated one "straight seven" day and kept four days of block scheduling, which required 15 more minutes in the schedule to allow students enough time to move between classes.
The Manatee County School Board gave its blessing this year, and school officials
hashed out the details during the summer break.
During the summer, the Palmetto High cafeteria underwent renovations, updating and adding serving lines and seating. Students will now have two lunch sessions instead of three to accommodate the new schedule, Saunders said.
Students arriving by bus are on campus by 7:30 a.m. The schedule switch gives the transportation department more time to deliver middle and elementary schools on time, Saunders said.
This year, Palmetto students will run on the straight seven schedule and attend seven periods a day for about 50 minutes.
"It's a positive. You're seeing your students everyday," Saunders said.
Palmetto Principal Willie Clark, who Saunders said was the driving force to make the change happen, did not return multiple calls for comments.
Instead of taking on a straight seven schedule, Southeast High School will introduce a "skinny" Monday, followed by two rotating block days the rest of the week for the 2015-16 school year, Principal Jim Pauley said.
"The Monday skinny day will set the tone for the whole week," Pauley said.
On a normal week, each class will meet three times. Pauley said teachers began adjusting lesson plans last January when the idea cropped up.
Southeast will also have a slight lunch schedule change as the school cafeteria also underwent renovations over the summer. Unlike Palmetto, Southeast is expanding to three lunch periods a day instead of two.
"Last year, we were tight," he said.
Pauley says most logistics and legwork are done, but work will continue until Aug. 24.
"The kids are coming no matter what," he said.
Similar to Southeast, Bayshore will also have one "skinny" Friday and two rotating block days throughout the week. The skinny day can be used by teachers to review the previous week's work, spend extra time on remediation or set the tone for the coming week, Principal David Underhill said.
Typically, pep rallies or other events happen Friday, so having the skinny day there made sense.
The "skinny" period on rotating days, typically the first period, will move to mid-morning, after the first block period ends, he said. The change was made to downplay the percentage of class missed if students are tardy.
"It doesn't have as big an impact if you have a 90-minute class," Underhill said.
For short weeks, because of holidays or other days off, the "skinny" day will be eliminated and the two rotating block days will take precedent, Underhill said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.